Getting started on your resume can be daunting. Where do you even begin? Luckily, these tips will help you get there. Think: Know the job, know yourself, and make it happen!
- Tailor your resume to the job. That doesn’t mean that you need to change your experience – instead, highlight the experience and skills you have that are relevant to the position.
- Don’t list everything you’ve ever done. You were president of Spanish Club in high school? Great! Does that apply to this job? If the job is a student organization or is leadership-oriented, then it might. If you’re applying to be a senior software engineer, odds are that your Spanish Club experience shouldn’t make the cut. This isn’t about showing off everything you’ve done in your life – it’s about showing how your skills have prepared you for the job. Consider how you can best market yourself.
- List your accomplishments, not your job descriptions. Sure, you could write that at your last job you managed and organized documents in client files. Perhaps this was, in fact, part of your job. But if you revamped the entire filing system to make it easier and faster to find things, say so: “Improved office efficiency and client service by overhauling filing system” is true, and is a much better way to put across to your future employer that you are the kind of motivated star employee they are looking for. So, how to begin? Start by making a list of your contributions in your previous jobs, no matter how small. Read through old employee reviews or documents, if applicable, to get your memory rolling. Were you ever chosen for a special team or committee? Did you ever make an extra effort or pull a late night on a project that ended up being a success? Were you ever recognized by your boss for an achievement? Did you ever receive a promotion, or raving reviews from customers for the service you gave them? Be ready with detailed stories about your accomplishments if you get an interview.
- Be brief. This might seem at odds with the tips above, but cut everything down to just the essential bits. Write bullet-point style!
- Emphasize what you like. What is it that you really want to be doing in your job? Don’t aggressively promote the skills you have but you hate using. If you rock Excel spreadsheets but you want to run screaming when you see one, don’t sell that! Conversely, if working with Excel spreadsheets is a huge part of the job, reconsider whether it’s worth your sanity to apply.
- Be honest. Seems simple, but it’s easy to get caught up in ourselves. Highlight your achievements, and give attribution as needed. If you say, “I increased revenue by 500%,” but in reality, you were part of a team of 10, say instead, “I was part of a team that increased revenue by 500%.” In fact, you can use this to your advantage, too, because employers often seek out people who are team players. Be prepared to discuss how you contributed and what your role was on the team, should it come up in an interview.